Toward a practical model of postmodern public relations
Rodriguez, Anne R. Czajkowski
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Although there has emerged in the past 10 to15 years a significant body of scholarly literature on the application of postmodern perspectives to the field of public relations, very little has been offered in the way of a roadmap to a practical, everyday application of postmodernism to public relations. Toward that end, this thesis research project offers a practical model for the application of postmodern ideas to the practice of public relations. To understand how postmodernism is emerging as a new perspective on the practice of public relations, it is helpful to first consider currently established theories in the field. Toward that end, a literature review is presented first examining Excellence Theory as one current perspective on the field of public relations. Postmodernism is then presented as an alternative view, and a theoretical framework is set forth synthesizing PPR as it is presented in the literature. Rhetorical criticism is then employed to examine the practical usefulness of what has, until now, been only a theoretical model of PPR. The theoretical framework for PPR is used as a framework to examine two cases of real-world public relations practice: 1) communications surrounding the American Association on Mental Retardation?s decision to change its name to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and 2) environmental discourse by petroleum giant BP. The result is a useful, useable model for the practice of PPR that derives directly from theory and is directly applicable to industry. The practical model for PPR bridges theory with practice to provide a roadmap for the effective and ethical practice of public relations. Results of the analysis suggest viii that seven of the eight components of the theoretical framework for PPR can be carried out in the practical model. The practical model distills those theoretical components into the four categories: practical relativism, power relations, the dual role of practitioners, and strategy. The only component of the theoretical framework that was not retained for the practical model of PPR is that of avoiding entering into relationships with stakeholders with planned strategies for success. Just the opposite, this project concludes that strategic planning is, in fact, essential for the practice of PPR. In addition, the practical model for PPR calls on practitioners to use awareness of power relations to direct construction of messages, and to develop understanding of communication contexts in order to engage in discourse that is right and just.